Interview with the Brilliant YA & Women’s Fiction Author Carey Torgesen

Carey Torgesen
Carey Torgesen

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?

As an English teacher, I always loved reading but never really thought about writing. It seemed like something other people did, not me. One day while I was talking to my kids about making goals for themselves, I threw out the idea (without much thought) that I would make my own goal. As I wrote the words “I will write a novel” on the board, I didn’t actually think I would ever do it. But something about putting it out there, in front of my students, made me committed to the idea. From that point on, I realized how much I was learning about the craft of writing as I was working on that first novel. By the time I was finished with it, I realized writing was something I really enjoyed doing. That was about five years ago. I’ve been writing ever since.

What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?

I write primarily contemporary, both YA and Women’s Fiction. My style is pretty much based on the chick lit genre I loved when it was big. Bridget Jones was a huge inspiration, as well as Devil Wears Prada and every Sophie Kinsella book written. I love the quirk and spunk of the women. And I love how every woman can relate with these very real, very flawed characters. Though I think my spin on the genre is to take the fantasy element of happy ever after, and turn it around to having females who don’t define their happiness on men. I want my characters to stand on their own and learn they don’t need anyone else to make them happy. It’s all within them. Probably because I am working on that myself.

What path are you taking toward publication, traditional, indie or hybrid?

I am still actively seeking traditional publication. It’s what I want most for my career. I’m not opposed to some small press or self-publication, but for my first foray into the business, I prefer to leave my work to the experts in their field, aka. editors, literary agents, and publishing houses.

All writers are readers so who are some of your favorite authors and why?

As I said above, Sophie Kinsella is a huge inspiration to me. She makes me laugh and swoon and connect to the characters as if they’re my friends. I also like John Green, Rainbow Rowell, and Maggie Stiefvater. I just love that they are really masters and innovators of their craft.

What inspires your ideas? How do you come up with them?

Different things inspire me. Sometimes it’s a song. Sometimes it’s an experience. And other times, it’s a title or singular image I come up with. I have a problem because I have too many ideas and not enough time to write them all. I have three ideas that I really want to see to completion right now. If only I had more fingers and keyboards and never needed sleep!

What are you working on now?

The WIP I am working on is quite dark. It’s actually inspired by some of my own experiences with students who don’t always know where the line is between student and teacher. My main character has serious mental health issues and has attached herself to her teacher. So really, it’s about that relationship and how sometimes what students see and feel isn’t always how things really are. It’s about how strong an influence teachers have on their students and the impact, both positive and negative, that they make. It’s told in non-linear style and takes place in three various timelines, so it has been a challenge. My toughest one to write to date. Also, it’s a total departure from my usual light and humorous tone. But I love it.

I want to read this. Now! 

Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

I am a total planner. I found it’s the best way for me to make sure everything is weaved in and connected. I am ok with the story veering off too. But without a plan, I would just write with no direction and feel like I was wasting time. So for me, outlining is a necessity. Especially for the one I am working on now. With non-linear, you really have to know and plant seeds and clues for what will be coming next. Lots of foreshadowing.

What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?

It’s probably a little like this:

open up WIP

open up twitter

tweet

research

write

tweet

write

coffee

write

(This is hilarious and very true for most of us)

I usually write for a long chunk of time. Then take a few days off. Sometimes weeks when I am stuck.

If one of your novels was made into a movie, which would you choose and what actors would you cast to play the three main roles?  

I think Princess Paradox would have made a great movie. I’d put America Ferrera as Nora, Jared Leto as Finn, and maybe Chris Hemsworth as Aidan.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?

I think that it’s not always easy. And that rejection is a part of the writing process. I thought I would get published right away, so learning that it takes time and that you get better the more you write is a big lesson. I also have learned you can be a talented writer, but the market indicates what books get picked up and what ones won’t. And that kind of sucks. But if you like what you write, just keep doing it. Ultimately, you’re doing it for yourself and that’s the most important thing.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing? What about the process of trying to get published?

Oh gosh. This could fill pages. I think the best thing I’ve done as a writer is to intern for an agent. I’m learning so much about what works and what doesn’t in writing. The biggest mistakes I see when I read are: the story doesn’t have high enough stakes, they aren’t edited or revised, basically that they aren’t ready to go. When you sub to an agent, that manuscript has to be damn near perfect. The characters should be realistic and fully realized, the world has to be carefully crafted and consistent, and you have to make sure the story makes sense. Are all the loose ends wrapped up? Are there plot holes? How is the pacing? If the story takes 50 pages to really get going, it’s not starting in the right place. Lastly. I have learned that everything is subjective and sometimes when agents say they don’t “connect,” it’s because they really don’t. It’s not personal and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. It simply means the story didn’t speak to them. For me, that’s a huge aha. And it’s really very true.

Anything else you would like to add or talk about?

Nope! Thanks for having me, though. 🙂 It was fun.

Thank you so much! Where can people find out more about you and your books?

They can find me on twitter https://twitter.com/careytorg and my blog: http://seattletfiles.blogspot.com/

 

 

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